What does it take to establish and maintain great carrier relationships? Patience, hard work, honest dialogue and attention to detail are all necessary ingredients in these partnerships where both parties bring a unique offering to the table and are dependent on one another.
1. Manage expectations
A clear understanding of each party's expectations and definition of success, along with a commitment to devote time, energy and resources toward these goals, are essential. Honest and frequent communications form the bedrock of any relationship, as they define and shape realistic expectations while also feeding crucial insight into a rapidly changing environment.
2. Regular communication
Committing to regularly scheduled meetings will keep everyone on task while also advancing the latest knowledge on products, services, new opportunities and market conditions. Keeping this a top priority throughout the year will ensure there are no surprises, particularly when it comes to the third quarter and progress toward attaining year-end goals comes into clear focus.
3. Know each other's strengths
Agents and brokers along with their carrier partners need to know what each stakeholder can do well. Then, make sure these areas align. Frustrations and failure are sure to follow without that alignment, while good alignment uses resources efficiently and becomes the propellant for getting more deals done. In other words, success breeds success.
4. Use data to identify opportunities
Using data, benchmarking and business intelligence to identify and profile opportunities to better serve clients is increasingly important. A variety of tools exist on both ends to exploit this knowledge. Collaborating to identify the most appropriate opportunities benefits everyone.
5. Get the message to the right people
Getting the message to the desk level is critical. Underwriters, producers and account managers need to be on the same page. Achieving common goals begins and ends with the attitude and actions of those transacting business. Providing adequate lead time and accurate and thorough underwriting data within each submission is also critical. Appreciating and respecting the different responsibilities each party faces in the sale, underwriting and servicing of business will yield constructive growth and development of the relationship, and eliminate needless finger-pointing if goals are not met.
Let's not forget we’re in the relationship business; the interdependence between carriers and agencies is a critical component that drives our business. In order to achieve great relationships, both parties need to work hard at it and expend the energy to remain committed. At the end of the day, stakeholders strive to write business and create value for their organization.
Anthony Curti, CIC, LIC, is the national director for Michigan with the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) and Chief of Staff of the Law Department with Acrisure, LLC. Dave Palmisano, CPCU, CIC, is Director of Marketing and Carrier Relations for Acrisure, LLC.